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Gulf countries contest Aoun's Bahrain remarks

  • From left to right, Bahrain's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mustafa Al-Shamali, Bahrain's Finance Minster Ahmad bin Khalifa, Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Dr. Abdel-Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Qatari Finance and Economy Minister Yussef Hussein Kamal and United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer prepare for group photo before the finance ministers meeting of the Gulf Coop

BEIRUT: Gulf states, via a letter to the Lebanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia, protested Monday what they described as MP Michel Aoun's "irresponsible remarks" on events in Bahrain.

According to the Emirates News Agency, Secretary-General of the Gulf Corporations Council Abdel-Latif Bin Rashid al-Zayani handed Lebanon’s Ambassador to Lebanon Munir Anouti a letter on behalf of Gulf Countries contesting Aoun’s remarks.

“[In the letter] the GCC countries expressed their severe condemnation to the irresponsible remarks that MP Michel Aoun ... made to Al-Alam television on Feb. 12, 2013, when he spoke about the internal situation of the Kingdom of Bahrain in a misleading and harmful manner,” the agency said.

It added that the comments of Aoun, Hezbollah’s primary Christian ally in Lebanon, reflected “a vision, interests and ties that have become known to everyone” and contradict the reality in the small kingdom.

Aoun, addressing an Iranian TV station last week, criticized the international community and the Arab League for its lack of support to Bahraini protesters, calling their predicament an “injustice.”

Days after the interview with Aoun, who heads a bloc of 10 ministers in the 30 members Cabinet, Bahrain summoned Lebanon’s charge d’affaires to that Arab country and requested clarification.

In a bid to avoid a row between Lebanon and Bahrain, Prime Minister Najib Mikati phoned his Bahraini counterpart Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Sunday to clarify his country’s position.

During the conversation, Mikati underscored that Lebanon would not interfere in Bahrain’s internal affairs and stressed that Aoun’s remarks did not reflect that of the government’s official stance.

On Saturday, Mikati said Lebanon was committed to the “Baabda Declaration,” an agreement among the country’s rival political parties to distance the country from regional and international conflicts in order to avert the negative repercussions of regional tensions and crises.

In its letter Monday, the GCC said the Lebanese lawmaker’s remarks contradicted the “sisterly and historic ties” between Lebanon and the council and “represent narrow interest and personal ambitions that do not serve Lebanon's interest or the Arab community.”

Aoun Saturday said as an MP he had the right to state his opinion, adding that his position did not reflect that of the government.

“We in Lebanon have the freedom to express our opinion, particularly as MPs. The government has nothing to do with the issue,” Aoun told a local radio station over the weekend.

In its letter, the GCC also stressed the council's support to the reform program by Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa, praising his instructions to continue with national dialogue in the Arab country.

 
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